"Conservation on the ground takes a lot of work, a tremendous amount of dedication and a true passion for nature."
WWF Senior Research Officer Sabita Malla has led a series of challenging monitoring and research operations in Nepal, including some involving tigers, rhinos and crocodiles. Technology has been key to her success.
USING TECHNOLOGY TO PROTECT THE PLANETWritten by Sabita Malla
There I was, perched on the back of an elephant, scouring the heart of Nepal’s famous Chitwan National Park on a mission to test a new technology to help save this threatened species.
A rhino mother and her calf ambled into the grassland, right on cue and into the frame of my Google Glass.
It’s part of my job to try, test and use the best science and tools available to help my country remain a refuge for rhinos, tigers, elephants and more. I’m always excited by the potential that new technologies present to improve the efficiency of our vital conservation work.
WWF was invited to be a Glass Explorer last year, and we were able to work closely with a developer to create a custom-built program that provides biologists a tool for recording field data. This could be useful for supporting Nepal’s ID-based rhino-monitoring program.
Greater one-horned rhinos are making a comeback in Nepal thanks to the efforts of the government and the support of local communities. WWF has been part of this fragile success story since the 1960s when fewer than 100 rhinos were left in the entire country. The national rhino census in 2011 found 534 rhinos, with most of them in Chitwan National Park.
With this new technology, a task that once required a pen, paper and a fine sense of balance when perched on elephants is now a hands-free experience. It helped me record observations in the field, note GPS locations and take photos and videos like those of rhinos in their habitat.
My experience allowed me to explore a new field of opportunity. I can’t wait to see where the future takes us.